How to Get Rid of Acne Scars?

Could someone tell me the best way to get rid of acne scars on my chin and my cheeks?

Doctor Answers 27

Rid of acne scarring

Acne scars can be a very troubling problem. Even though the acne breakouts may be controlled or have long since stopped, the scarring remains for a lifetime.

Treatment for acne can be as troublesome as the disease itself. Usually, successful treatment requires a team approach with a dermatologist and a cosmetic surgeon.

First, attention must be turned to stopping any outbreaks, then repair of the scarring. If outbreaks continue, scarring is likely to continue, and any treatments aimed at treating scarring would be futile. There are many options for treatment of acne today depending on the severity of outbreaks. These are beyond the scope of this article, except to say that treatment for the underlying disease process is a must. Once the outbreaks are well controlled, attention can be turned toward erasing the lasting marks on the face.

Of note, acne is not only a disease of adolescence. Adult onset acne is not completely uncommon and is seen in women who are pregnant – often with more severe scarring. Treatment options for acne scars depend on the severity of the scarring and the skin type of the person wishing repair.

In people with darker skin, Fitzpatrick Types V, VI; options are limited because of concern for pigment irregularities after treatment. For lighter skinned individuals, treatments range from simple facial exfoliation to deep chemical or laser peels to surgical intervention.

For light scarring after acne, attention is placed on skin resurfacing. By taking off the outer layers of skin and stimulating collagen synthesis with new skin formation, acne scars can be reduced. This is best simulated by placing a finger on either side of an area of scarring and lightly pulling. If the scars fade, this can be a good option for resurfacing.

For deeper scars, a deep chemical peel, ablative laser (CO2 or erbium) resurfacing, or dermabrasion/dermasanding may be necessary. For deeper scars, deeper solutions are necessary. Again, several options exist.

  • Deeper scars can be surgically excised with the larger acne scar replaced with a surgically placed small line. This can later be refined with other rejuvenation techniques.
  • Punch grafting affords a simple method for treating multiple scars. A circular punch is used to create an incision around an acne scar. The scar is then allowed to heal and the resulting skin irregularity is smoothed.
  • Subcision involves releasing the tethering attachments underneath the scar and then filling the space with either a temporary or permanent filler to prevent the scar from reforming when it heals. With the advent of new temporary artificial fillers such as hyaluronic acid, this is a good option for larger depressed scars.

Whatever the treatment option, it is important to consult a physician with a large arsenal of treatment options – if a physician only sells a cheeseburger, then you get sold a cheeseburger, even if you need a bacon burger. It is also important to remember that just as acne scars did not form overnight, treatment can sometimes take months to get the desired result. Once you find an experienced physician and decide on a treatment option, remember that it’s a long road but one that is usually worth the wait.

Dallas Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 13 reviews

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How to get rid of acne scars

Acne scars can cause red or brown discoloration and uneven skin contour. Usually multiple types of treatments are needed for maximum improvement. Patience is key since the full effect is often not seen for several months. 

Skin discoloration and texture can be improved with topical treatments like hydroquinone and Retin-A, but for deeper scars and more significant discoloration, other techniques are needed.

Small, deep acne scars can be treated with surgical excision, which will ideally trade a depressed and discolored scar for a thin, flat scar.This is often followed by other resurfacing techniques like laser, chemical peel or dermabrasion to further smooth the skin and minimize scarring.

Other techniques to improve large or numerous scars involve resurfacing the skin by intentionally traumatizing it in order to stimulate collagen production. This thickens the skin and shrinks the surface area of the scar, and color may be improved as well. The Cross technique uses a very concentrated TCA peel. There are multiple types of laser as well, and the best choice depends on the degree of improvement needed as well as your skin color. Unfortunately options are limited for patients with dark skin due to an increased risk of skin discoloration.

Risks for all these techniques include temporary or permanent lightening or darkening of treated skin, crusting, scabbing, persistent or new scarring, reactivation of cold sores, infection, redness, acne flares, and milia formation.

Dana Goldberg, MD
Jupiter Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 23 reviews

Getting rid of acne scars

There are generally three viable alternatives that we utilize on a regular basis:

  1. Erbium Laser which generally works with one treatment, but can be repeated if desired.
  2. Fraxel Laser which generally provides some improvement after 5 or 6 treatments.
  3. Injectables to fill the acne scars. This provides temporary but quick improvement of acne scars.

With any of these alternatives, you should find an experienced practitioner who is well trained.

Kris M. Reddy, MD, FACS
West Palm Beach Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 21 reviews

Improving acne scars

While there is no way to make one’s skin that of a porcelain doll, acne scars can be improved. This usually requires a number of treatments with the CoolTouch, Smooth Beam, Affirm, Active FX or Fraxel lasers, which can minimize their appearance.

We often combine lasers with subcision and/or injection of fillers.

Mitchel P. Goldman, MD
San Diego Dermatologic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 7 reviews

Acne scar treatment in Los Angeles

Our office specializes in acne scar treatments for all skin types, including Asian and African American skin. We use a combination of ablative, non ablative, sublative, and resurfacing treatments to improve acne scars. 

Dr. Karamanoukian 

Raffy Karamanoukian, MD, FACS
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 57 reviews

It depends on what type of acne scars they are...

acne scarring is highly dependent on factors such as the TYPE of acne scar, your skin type and the location of acne scars. This is the basis behind scar removal. 
Laser can help- the remodel collagen.
Subscion and surgery and break scars down or cut scars out
Fillers can treat divets, and atrophic scars
TCA CROSS can help with deep acne scars- called Ice Pick scars
RF or RF Needling can help stimulate and remodel collagen

The majority of patients will have several scar types, and hence multiple treatments are needed for optimal outcomes. 


Dr Davin S. Lim
Laser and aesthetic dermatologist
Brisbane and Gold Coast

Davin Lim, MBBS, FACD
Brisbane Dermatologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 3 reviews

Acne Scar Treatment

This is a tough question and a tough problem.  There is no one right answer but the good news is that today there are some good alternatives that should be considered.  

The first step is to smooth out the canvas so to speak.  The holes, pits and undulations that acne scarring can make are impossible to cover.  Some solutions include:
  • Excision on the scars works for the really deep and extensive scars. In this case the deep, wide scars are traded for surgical scars that are hopefully thin and flat but it depends a little on how you heal and location of the scar.
  • Filling the scar with a filler and using subcision to get a flat surface. Subcision is a technique that helps to release the scar from below to help flatten it out. Filler is used as well. The long term fillers like Artefill are exceptional for this and in fact Artefill is in the process of getting FDA approval for this specific application.
  • '"Sanding" the raised areas. This used to be accomplished with dermabrasion but today better results can be achieved with an ablative laser treatment.
The second step is to even out the skin tone and color. Again there are various alternatives for this. Ablative lasers work well as does Broad Band Light Therapy or BBL. Deep chemical peels like a Croton oil peel are also a good choice. These treatments are aggressive but exceptional results are possible in the right hands and with the right patient.

I hope that helps.

Best regards.

Brian Windle, MD
Kirkland Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 21 reviews

Acne Scar Treatments

Typically, treatment of acne scars can range from topical creams to laser treatments and the treatment chosen depends on several factors such as skin type, degree of scarring, and whether or not you are still having acne breakouts. Retinoid creams such as tretinoin and Tazorac can be effective for mild scarring where there is skin darkening known as hyperpigmentation. If the scarring is severe where there are depressions in the skin, laser treatments such as Smoothbeam or Fraxel laser will be recommended.

Joshua L. Fox, MD
Long Island Dermatologic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 12 reviews

Acne Scar Treatment

The best treatment for acne scars is often laser. Laser treatments such as the FAST treatment for acne scars is a two part approach to helping to build collagen to fill in scar scars and resurface the skin entirely. There is also a program for patients that are not in NYC to come to New York to help treat their acne scars. 
The most effective treatment is our signature Focal Acne Scar Treatment (F.A.S.T.) procedure, which combines two different fractional CO2 lasers and delivers outstanding results in a short period of time. F.A.S.T. procedures remove acne scars and give patients’ their self-esteem back in record time. In addition you can do Fraxel laser therapy and fractional CO2 lasers.  There is also the new platelet rich fibrin matrix (also known as PRP treatment or vampire facial), which promotes the growth of healthy skin and new collagen formation in and around the area of acne scars by introducing your body’s own growth factors deep into the dermis. This new acne star treatment is best used in combination with laser procedures and produces results that are very impressive.

Eric Schweiger, MD
New York Dermatologic Surgeon
3.5 out of 5 stars 11 reviews

Treatment for acne scars

Acne can cause many different types of scarring, and the treatment would depend on what type of scarring you have. 
One very common and frustrating type of scarring is the "rolling" or "pitted" scarring.  Another common outcome of acne is post inflammatory hyperpigmentation, or brown discoloration left by the acne lesions. 
Treatment options include:
Fraxel laser or other resurfacing laser
Dermal fillers
Chemical peels
Bleaching creams
Retinoid creams
Subcision (releasing some of the bound down and scarred tissue from underneath the surface of the skin)
Punch grafting (surgically removing some deeper pitted scars)

Of course the most important treatment is to make sure your acne is under control in order to prevent future scarring. 

I recommend that you consult with a local dermatologist or plastic surgeon to determine the best treatment plan for you.

Best of luck!

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.